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Some authors have a love-hate relationship with book descriptions — especially those that appear on jacket covers. On the one hand, what if they give too much away? But on the other, what if they don’t provide enough information to tantalize readers? How does an author find the perfect balance?

One PickFu user made this burden easier on herself by testing her two book descriptions in a recent PickFu poll. Since the book is aimed for a female audience, she asked an audience of 50 women, “Which book description is more appealing?”

Option A reads from the perspective of one of the central characters. In it, he describes meeting a woman he can’t resist. The three bolded words at the top of the description describe the book’s central themes: money, wealth, power.

tips for writing book descriptions - Option A

In Option B, the author splits the description between the two central characters — giving the woman a voice as well as the man. The bolded phrases here hint at the problems the characters are facing.

Tips for writing book descriptions - Option B

Can you guess which one won?

And the winner is…Option B! With a score of 62 to Option A’s 38, B won by a landslide.

Here’s why.

3 tips for writing book descriptions

Women want to hear other women’s voices

Women may like reading romance novels featuring steamy male protagonists, but they definitely don’t want authors to only write from male perspectives. Said one respondent, “I really liked option B because it told the background story in Olivia’s words I didn’t like option A because it sounded so stuck up and conceited written by a man that doesn’t treat women well.”

Women can smell when there’s a misogynist lurking between the pages. And if that’s what’s going to be featured in a novel, there better be a strong female character to round him out (or wipe him out!)

Dual narrative novels are exciting

Many respondents loved that Option B’s description made it clear that the novel was split into two perspectives.

One respondent said, “I actually read this genre a lot and would much prefer the book description that obviously gives the viewpoint for the two characters.”

Another added, “I prefer [Option] B because it shows the viewpoint of both characters on the back cover which was more interesting to read.”

So not only was the actual description more interesting, but respondents felt that the book itself would be more fascinating if told from two perspectives. Hopefully, that’s how the author wrote it (or is planning to write it!)

The bolded first words make a difference

Several women found Option A’s bolded first words, “Money. Wealth. Power.” too dry and businesslike. By contrast, they loved Option B’s bolded first sentence, “There was a time when I trusted everyone.”

One woman said, “That headline, ‘There was a time..’ really grabbed my attention. I could tell this book was going to tell me some good stories!”

And that’s what a perfectly balanced book description will do: hint at the good stories you’ll get to read if you buy the book.

Tips for writing book descriptions

A well-crafted book description appeals to the audience in the right way, offers a glimpse into the character’s main problems, and draws you in with an interesting, bolded first phrase.

Option B’s description doesn’t give much away, but it hints at big problems for both characters. And a big problem is at the heart of every good story.

Are you having a tough time writing your book description? Write a few versions and gauge reader reaction with your own PickFu poll today.

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Laura Melchor

Laura Ojeda Melchor (she/her) is freelance writer whose work has appeared in Parents.com, Mom.com, Gardener’s Path, and of course, PickFu. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut middle grade novel, Missing Okalee, comes out from Shadow Mountain Publishing in the fall of 2021. Find her online at lauraojedamelchor.com.

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